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Suspect 'appeared calm' | Oxford High School releases their account of deadly shooting

The suspect's parents did not tell the school he had access to a weapon. He was released back into class prior to the shooting that killed four.

OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. — Oxford Community Schools released their version of the Nov. 30 shooting that killed four and injured seven. School officials say they released the information in an attempt to be "transparent" with the community on their account of events.

The school is also asking for a third-party investigation to be conducted in conjunction with police work to "leave no stone unturned," superintendent Tim Throne wrote in a statement released Dec. 4. Michigan's Attorney General Dana Nessel has offered her team to lead the investigation.

On Monday, Nov. 29, 15-year-old sophomore Ethan Crumbley was caught viewing pictures of bullets on his phone during class by his teacher, Throne said.

Crumbley met with a school counselor and another staff member to discuss the photos. He stated shooting sports are a family hobby, and him and his mother went to the shooting range recently. 

Per procedure, school authorities reached out to his parents about the photos, but didn't hear back from them on Nov. 29.

Police said Crumbley's mother texted him that day, stating: "lol I’m not mad at you, you have to learn not to get caught."

According to Throne, his parents responded to the school's call the next day, Nov. 30. They confirmed Ethan's statements on the bullet photos.

On Nov. 30, a teacher then noticed Crumbley had concerning drawings and written statements in class, Throne said.

Police said the note on Crumbley's desk included the following:

  • A semiautomatic handgun pointing at a note: “The thoughts won’t stop, help me”
  • Bullet with “Blood everywhere” written above it
  • Drawing of a person appearing to be shot and bleeding
  • Notes reading, "My life is useless" and "The world is dead"

Throne said Crumbley was immediately removed from the classroom and brought to the counselor's office again. He told school authorities that the drawing was part of a video game he was designing and that he planned to pursue video game design as a career. 

His parents were called in to school. Throne said it was difficult to reach them. They waited an hour and a half with Crumbley, analyzing and observing his behavior.

Crumbley said he was worried about missing assignments while waiting. Staff retrieved his science homework, which he worked on in the office.

Throne said school officials believed Crumbley did not pose any threat to others and that his demeanor "appeared calm."

When both of his parents arrived, counselors asked Crumbley questions surrounding the potential to harm himself or others. Counselors concluded he did not pose a threat.

Throne says his parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, did not inform the school that their son had access to a firearm or that he had one with him. 

The school told the Crumbleys they had 48 hours to seek counseling for their son or the school would contact Child Protective Services. 

Counselors asked the couple to take Crumbley home for the day, but they "flatly refused and left without their son, apparently to return to work," Throne said.

School officials then decided that given Crumbley had no prior disciplinary infractions on his record, he would be returned to the classroom rather than sent home to an "empty house," Throne said.

The incidents were never brought to the principal or assistant principal's office and remained at the guidance counselor level.

Crumbley opened fire in a passing period, surrounded by his classmates at 12:51 p.m. that day.

Police said at 1:22 p.m., Jennifer texted Crumbley, stating: "Ethan, don't do it." At 1:37 p.m., James called 911 to report the gun missing and said he believes his son is the shooter.

"While we understand this decision has caused anger, confusion and prompted understandable questioning," Throne said, "the counselors made a judgment based on their professional training and clinical experience and did not have all the facts we now know."

The district is offering mental health services to anyone who grappling with the tragedy. In-person and virtual options can be found here

"The unparalleled support from our community and neighboring communities gives me hope that we can and will persevere and emerge stronger," Throne said.

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